Awards judges Professor Richard Baker, Dr Tricia Donald and Dr Nigel Watson assess the standard of this year’s entries

Last year saw the launch of the Guidelines in Practice Awards, in which healthcare teams entered almost 50 initiatives to implement national guidance at a local level. We were pleased to find that this year along with a greater number of entries – there were more than 90 – has come an improvement in quality.

This year the Awards included two additional categories: mental health projects, sponsored by Wyeth in association with Neurolink, and allergy projects sponsored by Schwarz Pharma.

The range of topics submitted in the open Award category was wide, from CHD, by far the most popular, to COPD, back pain and eczema, to name just a few.

When we came to judge the Guidelines in Practice Award for best overall project, we found that three projects stood out. In the end, however, our decision was unanimous and the winner was the team led by single-handed GP Dr Geoff Rawes, from Blyth in Northumberland.

Dr Rawes’ team took an innovative approach to improving the care of patients with CHD, hypertension and diabetes.The team decided to involve their patients and find out what they really needed, before instituting some dramatic changes.

Now, the practice’s patients are encouraged to visit ‘one-stop’ clinics where, in one appointment, trained clinical receptionists carry out all the checks necessary for CHD, hypertension and diabetes, allowing medical staff to spend more time with the patient. It was clear that patients had benefited enormously from the changes Dr Rawes and his team put into practice.

This was a wonderfully innovative and exciting project which was at the same time practical, simple, and not costly. It is a brilliant example to other practices and PCOs who want to improve clinical care and services.

Dr Rawes’ entry is published in full in this edition, and those of the two runners up will appear next month. Full details of the winning entries can be found in News.

Guidelines in Practice is already thinking about the third annual awards next year ­ and you should be, too. Many healthcare teams are working hard to implement national evidence-based guidelines locally, so if you are involved in a project, why not think about submitting it next year?

We have provided some tips to help you succeed (see Box below), and you may find the following general observations about this year’s Awards useful.

  • Some entries appeared to be very innovative with the potential to make significant contributions to health improvement; however, the authors had failed to submit any evidence of improvements.
  • For an audit to be effective, criteria must be set, standards agreed and the achievement measured. A period of reflection should then take place, followed by an agreed action plan.
  • Finally, a re-audit of achievement is required to complete the cycle and demonstrate that the interventions have been successful. Some entries failed to complete the cycle and provided only anecdotal evidence of change.

Entry forms and criteria for the 2004 Awards will be published in the journal early next year.

Judges’ tips for success
  • Clearly state the criteria you have chosen and why you chose them
  • Measure the starting point objectively
  • Be clear about what changes you introduced and why you introduced them
  • After a suitable period of time, measure the impact of the changes introduced
  • Clearly describe the improvements you have made. Use graphs and tables if they help to illustrate the improvements
  • Write a clear conclusion

Guidelines in Practice, October 2003, Volume 6(10)
© 2003 MGP Ltd
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